Wednesday, April 18

Record crowds for incident packed Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship opener

In front of a record crowd the 2018 Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship served up some quality racing during an incident packed season opener. The Superbike spoils were shared by Kilkenny's Richie Ryan and Charles Stuart, with Ulsterman Stuart taking two wins to the single victory for reigning Superbike Champion Ryan.

The Dunlop Supersport division produced its usual close battles with two new winners taking the spoils as Dean McMaster finally broke his Masters duck with a pair of victories, while Emmet O'Grady making a return after a five year lay-off took the other win.

Saturday's opening Superbike race was led away by the Yamaha R1 of Charles Stuart. The leaders advantage lasted until lap six when Ryan set the fastest lap of the race as took over at the front. Stuart fought back in the closing stages but Ryan held on by three tenths of a second. Peter Moloney completed the podium coming home first of a trio of BMW's followed by Luke Johnston and Brian McCormack.

The first attempt to run race two was red flagged and on the restart Ryan slotted in behind Stuart and was looking comfortable until the red flags flew once again. With the competitors returned to the pit lane and some unable to access their tyre warmers as the track temperature began to drop, the riders requested that a result be declared and race two not restarted, which left Stuart as the winner from Ryan and Moloney.

Ryan finally got away in the lead for the last race of the weekend but an error at the start of lap three saw him slide off, leaving Stuart as leader with Moloney second and a hard charging Brian McCormack third. The gaps between the top three opened and closed as the race progressed, especially as they encountered back markers, but Stuart held on to take his second win and the championship lead. Moloney took his third podium of the weekend with Brian McCormack making a welcome return to the rostrum in third place. Former Supersport 'Cup' champion Gary O'Brien made a return to the winners enclosure as he took a hat trick of Superbike 'Cup' victories.

The first Supersport race of the season saw class stalwart Dean McMaster finally take his long overdue maiden Masters win. Second went to the returning Emmet O'Grady who took fastest race lap but could not close the gap to the winner, while Aaron Wright battled back to third following a slow start. McMaster took his second win in race two but only after a tough battle with O'Grady, which was decided when the Kerry man fell off. Wright improved to second with impressive Cup competitor Keelim Ryan taking third.

The final Supersport race was the closest fought of the three as McMaster, Wright and O'Grady fought over the lead. McMaster faded mid race leaving a fantastic scrap between his two main rivals. Having swapped places a number of times in the final two laps it was Wright who crossed the line first from a slowing O'Grady. The reason for O'Grady appearing to give up on the final lap became obvious afterwards, as it was announced that Wright had passed him under Yellow flags at the final corner. With a penalty applied to the young Ulster rider O'Grady was declared the winner from McMaster and Keelim Ryan. Ryan's third place completed a hat trick of Cup victories for the Offaly man.

In the main support class, the Principal Insurance Pre-Injection championship, Kevin Madigan took his first win from Enda Delaney and Jonathon Gregory in Saturday's opener. Sunday however was all about Ian Prendergast who beat Madigan to the flag in races two and three as he too took his first ever race wins. Enda Delaney completed a hat trick of podium finishes with two third places, having never previously made the rostrum in eighteen seasons racing.

The Master Superbike Championship continues at Mondello Park on April 28th & 29th.

Images courtesy of Mondello Park, Johnny Sweeney and Andy Quinn

TT Legend for KDM Hire Cookstown 100

Isle of Man TT legend, Dan Sayle will make his KDM Hire Cookstown 100 debut in ten days time. The 8 times TT winner as a sidecar ballast, along with three Manx Grand Prix wins, Sayle will contest the Moto 3 class on his NSF 250 Honda.

Sayle, who also acted as passenger for Michael Dunlop in his couple of sidecar outings has a wealth of road race knowledge, having also competed at the Southern 100 and Classic TT.
Sayles entry in the Moto 3 class will add to the quality entry for this race, which will see Adam McLean make his Moto 3 debut on board the JSR 250 Honda, along with similarly mounted Paul Robinson, throwing caution to the wind will be  the two stroke machines of Derek McGee (Joeys Bar 125 Honda),l ocal rider Nigel Moore and Austrian newcomer Chris Eder on his 125 FRR/KTM.
The Moto 3 class is just one of the 19 races on the race card for the two day event, which starts on Friday 27th April, with Roads Closing at 12 noon.
Heading the record breaking entry list is Michael Dunlop - TYCO BMW/MD RACING HONDA
Last Years Man of the Meeting, Derek McGee
Winner of the Feature race for the past two years, Derek Sheils (Burrows Engineering Suzuki)
William Dunlop Temple Golf Club/Caffery Racing,McAdoo Racings Adam McLean and James Cowton, along with exciting newcomers, New Zealand's Daniel Mettam, European Supermoto championship leader, Davey Todd and Manx Grand Prix winner Darren Cooper are just a few of the entries received.

Tuesday, April 17

Team 109 Brands Hatch report

After a fantastic opening weekend at Donington Park just a fortnight ago, Team #109 had high hopes heading into the second round of the season at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. Aghadowey’s McGlinchey was once again the man to beat in the Dickies British Junior Supersport class, taking victory in the opening race of the weekend on Saturday, before scoring another two podium finishes in the remaining two races, standing on the second step both times and extending his lead in the championship to almost thirty points.

The weekend got off to a great start for the nineteen-year-old, finish free practice on Friday in third position, before going one place better in qualifying putting the Kawasaki Ninja 400 in the middle of the front row for the opening race of the weekend. Teammate Glover struggled to get up to speed in the early stages of the weekend around the tight Indy track, finishing free practice in twenty-fifth, and starting from the back of the grid for the opening race after a difficult qualifying session. As race one got underway it was once again McGlinchey who was making the moves at the front, battling hard with fellow Kawasaki rider Elliot Pinson and the KTM mounted Brian Hart. As the race got into the latter stages Eunan was well within touching distance of the front, and as they entered the last corner, a diving move up the inside from the Derry teenager saw him take victory in the opening race by an incredible seven hundredths of a second. Fifteen year old Glover didn’t let his starting position hinder him as he moved through the field five places to take twentieth position. Saturday evening saw the second Junior Supersport race of the weekend, and it was once again a dice involving McGlinchey at the front, this time it was down to just him and Hart after Pinson crashed out at Druids with just two laps remaining. As the pair battled to the last corner it was once again a drag to the line to determine the winner, and this time it was Hart who won the sprint, narrowly getting the better of the Kawasaki by just four thousandths of a second. Glover once again improved on his earlier finish, starting from twenty-sixth once again, pushed his way through to a solid eighteenth place, just three positions off a points scoring finish.

The third race of the weekend was to take part on Sunday, and once again starting from the front row of the grid McGlinchey was determined to get the better of his rivals in the final battle of the weekend, and after another fifteen lap duel it was once again all came down to the drag to the line with Pinson this time edging McGlinchey off the top step of the podium by four thousandths of a second, with Eunan once again claiming second and adding to his already impressive haul of silverware for the campaign. Glover unfortunately crashed out at Druids in the early stages of the race, bringing his weekend to an unfortunate premature end.
With five podiums from the opening five races of the season, McGlinchey sits a top of the championship standings with an impressive tally of one hundred and ten points, and a twenty-nine point gap back to Kade Verwey in second position. Glover is yet to score his first championship point, but after some promising performances this weekend, this is certainly not far away for the young Dubliner.

In the Superstock 600 class it was yet another solid weekends work from Edenderry’s Kevin Keyes, which started with an excellent second place finish in the opening free practice session of the weekend on Friday, less than half a second off the top spot. In the second free practice session of the weekend later on that day Keyes put in another solid performance finishing inside the top six in the session, with just one second separating the top ten in the session. As the twenty-year-old went into qualifying, he was still making adjustments to the Team #109 Kawasaki, and despite a few settings still not being exactly how he wanted it he still managed to put his ZX6 machine on the third row, finishing the session in ninth position. A few more adjustments were made before they took to the grid for the race the following day, and the Offaly rider was feeling confident heading into Sunday.
As the lights went out to begin the only Pirelli National Superstock 600 race of the weekend, Kevin got an incredible start, passing five riders into the opening corner, and by the end of the opening lap was in the battle for the podium positions. After a tough battle throughout the twenty-two lap race Kevin was locked in a battle with his fellow podium finisher from Donington Park, Joe Sheldon-Shaw, and in the end, he narrowly missed out on fourth position on the drag to the line, with less than two tenths of a second separating the pair. Following his strong top five finish at the Kent circuit, Keyes remains in second position in the Pirelli National Superstock 600 championship, just nineteen points behind the current leader and race winner Ryan Vickers, with a two point advantage from the Yamaha of Sheldon-Shaw in third position.

Speaking about the weekend Team Manager Paul Tobin commented; “Another excellent weekend for us as a team, Kevin showed his true championship credentials this weekend with a great fifth place finish and more really good points in the bag as he heads into Oulton Park. Brendan also impressed us having never seen the circuit before and has now started to find his feet in the series, and will no doubt continue to progress from here on. Eunan also hadn’t seen the Brands Hatch Indy circuit before this weekend and to go out there and score another win as well as a further two podiums just shows what a talent he really is. We are all leaving in great spirits and looking forward to the next round, and finally a big congratulations to our Team Ambassador Glenn Irwin on his excellent podium in the second Bennetts British Superbike race.”

It’s a two month break now before McGlinchey and Glover are back in action in the Dickies British Junior Supersport class, but it’s just a two week break for Keyes with the Offaly rider back on track in the Pirelli National Superstock 600 class for the third round of the campaign at Oulton Park over the Bank Holiday weekend on the 5th, 6th and 7th of May.

Aaron Wright nominated for Masters Superbike Young Racer of the Year award

Newtonabbey's Aaron Wright took the first 2018 nomination for the Masters Superbike 'Young Racer of the Year' award, at the opening event of the season in Mondello Park on March 24th & 25th. The Teenager began his first season as a Supersport Pro rider with two podium positions to leave Mondello Park with second in the championship standings and a place in the end of season Young Racer shoot-out.

The Masters Young Racer of the Year award is the only Irish competition which provides backing and support for young Irish Motorcycle Racing talent. The competition is open to any rider who is under twenty three and competing at the Masters. At each event one rider is nominated to go forward to the end of year shoot out where they will have a chance to battle for the  €10,000 prize which is provided by Martin Birrane, owner of Mondello Park, Dawn International and Peter McMahon of EICL.

Having completed a part season in the Masters Supersport Cup in 2017, Aaron Wright graduated to the Pro ranks for 2018 and was immediately running at the front. Qualifying fourth for the opening race the seventeen year old dropped a couple of places at the start before battling back to grab his first Masters podium with third place.

Race two saw Wright line up in the middle of the front row, due to him achieving second fastest lap of race one, but once again he had to show his ability as he battled back from a less than ideal start to improve his finishing position to second. The final race was even stronger for Wright as he jumped straight from third on the grid into the lead and looked like taking his first win.

Race three turned into an exciting battle with Emmet O'Grady with the two swapping places throughout. Towards the end O'Grady used his much greater experience to make the best of the backmarkers, as he moved into the lead. As Wright closed back in heading into the final corner, the Marshals were displaying a yellow flag which Wright failed to see, as he was distracted by O'Grady's machine which had slowed to stay behind a backmarker. Having not noticed the flag signal the youngster passed the leader and was first to take the chequered flag, but he was later penalised for his error and dropped to fourth place.

Despite his disappointment at losing the win in race three, Wright was extremely happy with his first weekend as a Masters Pro rider. “This was a really positive start to the year for me and picking up this nomination is a fantastic opportunity. I'm looking forward to building and progressing over the rest of the season and getting more results like this weekend, both at the Masters and in the British Championship. I'd like to thank the award sponsors, and all of my own sponsors, as well as Mondello Park for looking after us so well at the opening event.”

Having received his nomination, Aaron will now go forward to the competition final in October and will also receive a free entry, testing and garage space for the next Masters event at Mondello Park on April 28th & 29th.

For more information see

Friday, April 13


After what was pretty much a dream start to the new Bennetts British Superbike Championship season last weekend at Donington Park, Team #109 are hoping to bring the momentum into the second event of the campaign this weekend at Brands Hatch. With both the Pirelli National Superstock 600 and Dickies British Junior Supersport classes on display this weekend, all three of the Cork teams riders will be in action, with Edenderry's Kevin Keyes once again aiming for the podium onboard his Kawasaki ZX6 in the Pirelli National Superstock 600 class, with Aghadowey teenager Eunan McGlinchey and Dubliner Brendan Glover both back on track on the new Kawasaki Ninja 400 machines in the new Dickies British Junior Supersport series. 

Keyes will be going into the event with aims of stepping back onto the Pirelli National Superstock 600 podium, and will no doubt have his eyes set on the top step, following on from his second-place finish at the East Midlands track less than two weeks ago. After a double podium in the Dickies British Junior Supersport class at the opening round, including a victory in the first race of the season, McGlinchey will be going into the second event of the calendar with a target on his back, sitting on top of the championship standings after the opening two races. Glover shown some solid progress throughout his opening weekend in the British Championship, and with it being just his first time racing a four-stroke machine, progress is the name of the game for the fifteen-year-old from Dublin. 

Looking ahead to the second round of the season, team manager Paul Tobin said; "We had a fantastic opening meeting at Donington Park over the Easter weekend, the teams’ results were amazing for our first event of the season, I would be lying if I said we weren't still on a bit of a high from it. But we aren't letting ourselves get carried away, it's a long season with a lot of races still to go, but now it's about trying to build on our momentum from Donington going into Brands Hatch this weekend. We're going to be doing our best to keep both Kevin and Eunan towards the top of their respective championships, and also to help young Brendan to continue his progress and find his feet in the British championship. But at the minute we aren't looking past race one this weekend, we'll work hard during practice to try and give the guys the bikes they need to qualify, and then work towards the races from there and keep the hard work going.'

Words and images James McCann

Wednesday, April 11

The immediate threat to Irish Road Racing

The Scarborough Spring cup being cancelled is a sure sign that modern day Road Racing is in immediate danger of being confined to the history books.

The rise of insurance costs and a decline in numbers attending meetings is having a detrimental effect in the running of these events. Every time a race is cancelled too, this adds to the expense of those running the remaining meetings. The cost of running races is unlikely to come down in the near future either, given the way insurance as a whole has risen.

While major sponsors like Carole Nash, Country Crest and Principal Insurance bring many gracious thousands to today’s races, it’s time “real Road Racing” took greater responsibility in helping clubs run the meetings like major sponsors do. It’s not enough to “Like and Share” articles or retweet posts anymore. 1000 little blue thumbs won’t pay for rented fencing, generators, portaloos and all the other equipment required to run a modern event. 1000 shares won’t pay for the ambulances to turn up and support the race or indeed the equipment that our blessed Medical Team’s provide.

Programmes are another huge expense and source of revenue for clubs. These have to be printed and paid for in thousands well in advance of a meeting (whether Joe Public turns up to buy them or not!) and printers can’t do discounts or refunds if it rains.

There are enough Irish racing fans out there too; the record breaking numbers flocking through the gates of Mondello recently is testament to that.

If you want to be able watch full-on Superbikes pass within a whisker of you on a winding public road, you need to act now and continue to do so.
What to do.
Fundraising is a core feature of any clubs activity in hosting a road racing meeting. View your local clubs website or Facebook page and I’ll guarantee there’s a “Join the Membership club”, “Sponsor a bale” or “Donate” section. It’s vital that we use these to ensure clubs have the funds available before a race is organised.

Words and images: Andy Quinn

Tuesday, April 10

Dunlop to make TYCO BMW debut at KDM Hire Cookstown 100

Fifteen times Isle of Man TT winner, Michael Dunlop will make his TYCO BMW Superbike debut at the forthcoming KDM Hire Cookstown 100 on Fri 27th/Sat 28th April.
The Ballymoney rider will compete in both Open and Cookstown 100 Superbike races on board the TYCO BMW Superbike which he will race at the NW200, IOM TT & Ulster Grand Prix. Dunlop will also compete in the 600 Supersport race on board his MD Racing PTR Honda.
Dunlops entry for the 96th Cookstown 100 adds to the already impressive list of competitors, which include his Brother William ,Derek McGee , Derek Sheils, Adam McLean and James Cowtown to name but a few.
Dunlop last competed at the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 in 2015, he retired in the 600 race, finished second in the Open race on board the ill fated R1 Yamaha, and crashed out after taking the lead from Guy Martin in the Feature race!

KDM Hire Cookstown 100 2018, Programme of Events.
Thursday 12th April
Liaison Night Royal Hotel 7.30pm
Sunday 22nd April
Annual Bikers Service with Rev Noel Agnew.
Race Paddock, Orritor Rd
Thursday 26th April
Annual Classic Bike Run
Sign on from 6.30pm in Burn Road Car Park, Leaving at 7.30 pm
Friday 27th April
KDM Hire Cookstown 100 Practice Day
Roads Close at 12 noon
Saturday 28th April
KDM Hire Cookstown 100 Race Day
Roads Close at 10.00 am

Michael Dunlop collecting silverware at his last appearance at Cookstown 100

Thursday, April 5

Testing weekend for Rhys Irwin on British Talent Cup debut

Donegal's Rhys Irwin underwent a testing first weekend in the all new British Talent Cup at Donington Park as the championship joined the British Superbike Championship for its 2018 season opener. Despite a tough weekend the fifteen year old left the Derbyshire venue feeling confident having been third quickest in free practice before mechanical issues upset his championship debut.

The Talent Cup season had stated well for Irwin with testing in Valencia, at the start of March. Following a strong run at the unfamiliar Spanish track, he arrived at Donington Park circuit full of confidence and finished up fourth in the wet opening session, best of the riders with no previous Moto3 experience. The Kilmacrennan lad went one better in the second practice to finish in the top three and once again best of the Moto3 rookies.

Heading into qualifying Rhys was confident he could at least match his practice result but things started to go astray almost immediately. Having sat second in the opening laps he began to tumble down the order as a mechanical issue ruined his chance of a strong grid position, eventually finishing seventeenth.

With his problems rectified for the race, the only Republic of Ireland representative in the championship quickly moved through the field and was in the top ten and closing the gap to the leaders after just two laps. Picking off places on the wet but drying track was treacherous and when Irwin was pushed wide as he tried to move into ninth place he put a wheel onto one of the slippery Donington kerbs resulting in a fall and the end of his race.

With a strong showing in practice and the early laps of race one the Donegal teenager was looking forward to making amends in race two but this fell foul of Monday's teeming rain, as it was canceled, leaving him no chance to take a positive race result from the weekend.

“This was my first weekend with the British Talent Cup Road to MotoGP programme and it was an absolutely fabulous experience despite the demanding schedule.” said Rhys. “During free practice I felt good and ended the session in P3 but qualifying didn't go so well as I had technical issues which left me 17th on the grid for race 1. In the race I pushed through and was challenging for eighth when I ran onto a kerb and crashed out.

Overall I am delighted with my pace, as I was one of least experienced riders there having never raced a Moto3 bike before. It's a pity the weather spoiled it but with standing water on the track Dorna made the right decision to cancel Race 2. Now I can't wait until the World Superbike Round where hopefully I can make the most of the pace I've shown.”

The Talent Cup returns to Donington Park on May 26th and 27th when it supports the World Superbike Championship. Rhys will be back in action before then however, as he will make his Moto3 Production class debut, on the Honda provided to him by Motorcycling Ireland, at the next British Superbike event at Brands Hatch two weeks time.

Wednesday, April 4

Donington BSB Round puts Clifford in Pole position

After having technical issues and minimal practise time before qualifying last weekend, Aaron Clifford blitzed to pole position last weekend. Dreadful conditions and lack of track time didn’t upset the Noone transport backed Supersport Superstock rider as he qualified on top of the grid.

Competing in the first round of the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship amongst fierce competition Aaron said “Didn’t get a great start in the race and dropped to 6th at the end of the first lap, I unfortunately let the leading three get away but I can definitely say it was the most enjoyable race I’ve had in a long time battling with Milo Ward and Aaron Clarke! Never been inside the Top 10 so I’m extremely happy to finish in 4th!”

Aaron has a fundraiser this weekend to support his next round and as you can imagine, costs are high.
If you can’t attend, you can still make a donation via Paypal using the address in the flyer.

Best of luck Clifford Racing!

Words Andy Quinn

Image courtesy of Colin Port

Tuesday, April 3

Jason Lynn makes a strong start to his British Championship season

Masters Superbike Championship Young Racer of the Year, Jason Lynn, got his 2018 campaign off to a strong start at the opening rounds of the Thundersport GB Championship at Donington Park. In his first season racing in a full British Championship Lynn is on a steep learning curve as he learns new circuits and a new machine, but made steady progress across his first weekend in the competitive British series.

Having not raced at Donington Park prior to the Thundersport season opener, Lynn was not fully comfortable on his Mondello Park, Dawn International, AJ Plumbing Supplies and EICL backed machine and ended the wet and dry session in eleventh place. An eighth place finish in race one would normally have been a satisfactory start, but the Ulsterman was struggling badly for pace compared to his rivals and his lack of speed meant that he would drop to twenty first on the grid for Sunday's races.

The team worked hard on the set up for Sunday and a major improvement saw the Young Racer Award winner climbing rapidly through the field to take an impressive seventh place finish and a lap time more than two seconds faster than Saturday's best. A further improvement in the second race saw Lynn finish sixth, again from twenty first on the grid to leave his first Thundersport weekend an impressive fifth in the points standings.

Speaking about his first weekend in Thundersport Jason said “Saturday didn’t really go that well with straight into qualifying and no free practice, and to add to the challenge it was mixed conditions, half wet half dry. We qualified eleventh on the grid having struggled to get a clear lap with fifty five bikes on track.

My lap times were a long way off where they should have been in race one, but the team did a great job to improve things over night and I was much faster in Sunday's warm up. It was hard work coming through from twenty first in Sunday's races but I'm delighted with the team and my performance and how we turned things around and were fighting at the front by the final race.

I'm was really enjoying riding the Yamaha and the Dunlop Tyres by the end of the weekend. Thanks to the team for all of their hard work and to everyone else who has helped me get to this point, especially the Young Racer Award sponsors, Mondello Park, Dawn International, AJ Plumbing Supplies and EICL. My next races will be at Oulton Park, another new circuit, but now that I've experience the Thundersport Championship I'm really looking forward to improving on the Donington results.”

Lynn will be back in Thundersport for three more races at Oulton Park on April 20th and 21st as he continues his inaugural season competing in the British Championship.

For more information see

Words Fergus Brennan

Images Derek Wilson